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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Infosys employee B Neelima's death still a puzzle

A week after her mysterious death, it still remains unknown whether Infosys employee B Neelima committed suicide or was murdered.

The forensic doctors at Gandhi Hospital have now asked for images of the crime scene and also the video of her post-mortem before they give their final report to the police.

"We will go through the CD (of her post-mortem) to see if anything is missed (during the body's physical examination). We have also asked for pictures of the crime scene," said Dr T Vikramaditya, assistant professor at Gandhi Hospital, who conducted Neelima's post-mortem. 

The post-mortem was recorded to ensure transparency in the procedure. Doctors say the conclusion would depend on both her injuries and the crime scene investigation. Forensic doctors might visit the crime scene. DCP T Yoganand said that it would take about a week's time for the police to determine the cause of Neelima's death.

Nevertheless, forensic experts say that relying on the post-mortem report for a conclusion is an unrealistic approach as it's the scene of crime that throws up clues.

"If it's a suicide, the body would be at a distance from the building. However, if it's an accident or homicide, the body would touch the building wall before falling and hence would be closer to the building and the victim would suffer abrasions," says Dr M Narayan Reddy, former head of forensic medicine, Osmania Medical College. He further notes that in a suicide, the body lands on its legs so there would be injuries to the feet or lower part of the body. However, in a murder or accident, it's the upper half of the body that sustains more injuries. Details of Neelima's wounds remain confidential but it was reported earlier that she had sustained multiple fractures apart from other internal and external injuries.

The details of the fractures are not yet known. The police would possibly be looking for answers to the many unanswered questions. While her emails and text messages are indicative of a depressed state of mind, what is unclear is her reason to choose the parking lot at Infosys campus to take that fatal jump.

Was it because she considered it 'safer' on the campus and having worked there for many years she had an idea about how isolated the parking space would be at that time of the evening? Although the police and forensic doctors are tight-lipped about the nature of her physical injuries, initial reports had suggested some struggle before she fell from the building.

Also, she walked into the campus at 8.40 pm and died at 10.30 pm. What was she doing for close to two hours that she spent inside? It remains to be seen how this puzzle gets solved.

The family members of Infosys employee B Neelima who so far were alleging foul play in the incident, have approached Cyberabad police commissioner Ch Dwaraka Tirumala Rao requesting that the investigation into the death be stopped. They now believe that Neelima did indeed commit suicide.

The Cyberabad police said Neelima's husband Suresh Reddy and other family members had informed them that she had given a clean chit to B Prashanth, a Cognizant employee and her friend, in an email sent to her husband. She also informed him that she needed to pay 500 (currency not mentioned in the message but police presume it to be US dollars) as rent to someone in the US and 4,000 (currency not mentioned) to Prashanth.

"Suresh said he knew Neelima had a friend by name Prashanth. In the last one-and-half years, Suresh on one occasion went to the US to meet Neelima and celebrate her birthday. It was on this occasion that Neelima had introduced him to Prashanth along with several other friends.

However, Suresh said he was unaware of any more details about him," the Raidurgam police said. After cracking the email password and collecting the call detail record (CDR) of Neelima's cellphone, the Cyberabad police found several mails sent to Prashanth besides the lone mail to Suresh in the last few minutes before her death. "Seconds before Neelima's death she had sent an SMS to Suresh. When Suresh was questioned about it, he told us that his message box was full and hence the SMS might have not been delivered," an official said. After unlocking the phone of Neelima, police found that she had deleted all SMSes from her phone.

In the email sent to Suresh, which according to police he checked only after her funeral, Neelima had informed him about the payments she was supposed to make and to whom her gold and flat in Chandanagar was to be given. "It was not a will, she only briefly explained that benefits given by the company like provident fund, insurance should go to certain persons. As a result, the family members requested police to stop the investigation since they no longer have any doubts about her death being a case of homicide," officials said.

With the available information, police have come to a conclusion that Neelima went to Infosys with a determination to die. They are now gathering information on the reasons behind her death. Since Prashanth was a former employee of Infosys, police are ascertaining whether Neelima and Prashanth knew each other from the days he worked at the IT major or they became friends only after they moved to the US. Police are also trying to find details from Neelima's laptop.
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  1. Young men and women IT employees are undergoing a lot of stress. I don't know whether IT companies are providing counselling services to reduce their stresses and strains. There have been many instances where live-in and marital relationships have floundered because of problems of incompatibility noticed even after begetting children. May I suggest that IT companies and organizations where young men and women are engaged in stress-filled work and get into self-directed love-relationships provide periodic counselling services to them as part of their HRD programme?